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How to troubleshoot hardware and software driver problems in Windows XP
Article ID: 322205 - View products that this article applies to.
This article was previously published under Q322205
This article guides you through troubleshooting steps for hardware and software driver problems in Windows XP. The article is intended for a beginning to intermediate computer user. However, it does contain an "Advanced troubleshooting" section for more advanced users.
You may find it easier to follow the steps if you print this article first.
Note Several of these methods require you to restart your computer or leave the page that you are viewing now. So, before you continue, you might find it helpful to create a shortcut to this Web page on your desktop. To create a shortcut, follow these steps:
Note When you are finished with this article, you can right-click the icon and select Delete to delete it from your desktop.
There are many reasons why you might have a hardware or software driver problem. You might have installed an update that caused your driver to stop working. You might have installed some new hardware and not yet installed the necessary driver for that hardware, or the driver might be incompatible or corrupted.
To help us know which method we should ask you to try first, please select the symptom that most resembles your problem.
After you install new hardware, new software, or hardware drivers on a Windows XP-based computer, you experience the following symptom:
For information about how to contact the device manufacturer, visit the following Microsoft Web site:
http://support.microsoft.com/gp/vendorsMicrosoft provides third-party contact information to help you find technical support. This contact information may change without notice. Microsoft does not guarantee the accuracy of this third-party contact information.
If this method resolved the issue, you are finished. If this method did not work for you, go to method 4.
If you received an error message on a blue screen, you can copy the text of the error and search the Microsoft Knowledge Base for useful information.
The Microsoft Knowledge Base is a collection of more than 150,000 articles that Microsoft support professionals create and update regularly. You can use keywords and query words to find the content that you want.
To search the Microsoft Knowledge Base, follow these steps:
If this method worked, you are finished. If this method did not work for you, please try Method 4.
If you are not completely sure what that means, do not worry. None of these procedures will harm your computer. However, you should be aware that if you do this, any changes that were made to your computer after the last known good configuration date will be lost.
If you have recently installed a driver and are now experiencing a configuration problem, this method will probably work for you. Unfortunately, this feature does not resolve problems that are caused by missing or corrupted drivers or files.
To use the Last Known Good Configuration feature, follow these steps:
If this method did not work for you, go to method 5.
Method 5: Use the System Restore featureThe System Restore feature resembles the Last Known Good Configuration feature, except that the System Restore feature enables you to select a date before the last successful shutdown. You can use it to select a "restore point." A restore point is like a snapshot of your computer that Windows XP records periodically. System Restore uses the information in that snapshot to restore your computer to the earlier date.
Note System Restore does not affect your personal data files, such as Word documents, browsing history, graphics, favorites, or e-mail. You will not lose any changes that you made to these files.
Note This section asks you to log on to the computer by using an administrator account or by using an account that has administrator credentials.
To start, select "Option 1: Windows XP does not start" if you cannot start Windows XP, or select "Option 2: Windows XP starts" if you can start Windows XP.
Option 1: Windows XP does not startIf Windows XP does not start, follow these steps to use the System Restore feature:
Option 2: Windows XP startsIf Windows XP starts for you, follow these steps to use the System Restore feature:
If this method did not work for you, and you are comfortable with advanced troubleshooting, try the steps in the "Advanced troubleshooting" section. If you are not comfortable trying advanced troubleshooting steps, see the "Next Steps" section.
Advanced troubleshootingThis section contains advanced troubleshooting steps that are intended for advanced users to resolve driver issues. Start with step 1.
Step 1: Start Windows XP in safe modeStart in safe mode to bypass the typical Windows settings and startup programs, because those settings and programs may be affected by the issue that you are experiencing. Troubleshooting in safe mode might help resolve the problem.
To start the computer in safe mode, follow these steps:
Step 2: Use the Roll Back DriverUse the device driver rollback feature to reverse the consequences of having installed an invalid, incorrect, or corrupted device driver by restoring the previously installed driver.
To use the Roll Back Driver, follow these steps:
Step 3: Determine whether a third-party program or utility is causing the issueDisable all services, except the Microsoft services, to determine whether a third-party program, utility, or service is causing the issue. To do this, follow these steps:
Step 4: Identify the conflicting startup program or utilityAfter you have turned off all third-party services, selectively turn on startup programs and utilities to try to isolate a program that may be causing the issue with your driver.
To isolate the problem, follow these steps:
Step 5: Determine whether a third-party service is causing the issueNote If you disable all Microsoft services and then restart the computer, you also disable the System Restore utility and you lose all system restore points. Therefore, we do not recommend disabling all Microsoft services to troubleshoot connection issues.
Disable all services in order to determine whether a third-party service is causing the issue. To do this, follow these steps:
Step 6: Identify the conflicting serviceAfter you turn off services, selectively turn them on to test them and see whether you can isolate the service that may be causing the issue with your driver. To isolate the problem service, follow these steps:
If these methods did not help you, you might want to ask someone you know for help. You can also use the Microsoft Customer Support Services Web site to find other solutions. Some services that the Microsoft Customer Support Services Web site provides include the following:
For more information, click the following article numbers to view the articles in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/841567/ )You receive a "Cannot install this hardware" or "An error occurred during the installation" error message when you try to install a PCI device
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/810882/ )Error message: Cannot install hardware. An error occurred during the installation of the device
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/319908/ )Information about hardware device drivers for Windows XP
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/883259/ )How to install and configure Bluetooth devices in Windows XP Service Pack 2
330181If the articles listed here do not help you resolve the problem or if you experience symptoms that differ from those that are described in this article, search the Microsoft Knowledge Base for more information. To search the Microsoft Knowledge Base, please visit the following Microsoft Web site:
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/330181/ )Windows XP problems with damaged or incompatible hardware